MY HEART OF DARKNESS by Eden Film & Gebrueder Beetz productions

Four war-veterans, former enemies journey back to past battlefields deep within the African interior in search of reconciliation, forgiveness and … atonement?

Directors Staffan Julén and Marius van Niekerk

“There are two kinds of men, those who dream of war and those who have nightmares of war” Marius van Niekerk

The characters in our film, MY HEART OF DARKNESS, are men who have nightmares of war. Forcefully recruited into the military at an early age, often to fight against their own countrymen. Four men, four stories entwined, four fucked-up lives. Always ready to crack, to strike out even against those they love? Why do they snap awake in the middle of the night, running, sweating, pursued, terrified?

MY HEART OF DARKNESS, a journey of reconciliation into the dark African jungle, into a psyche so tainted with years of colonisation, religious brainwash, superstition and witchcraft, where history seems unnoticed, mistakes repeated over and over again, where lies are true until discovered, where life’s worth as much as a bullet, a journey that took us into the darkest of our own souls.

It is undeniably a story that becomes frightening and cruel the farther we churned up that river. Nevertheless, deep down there is a flicker of hope, of human hope that tells of a will to change and the painful insight that shows the contrast of cruelty and selfishness… to dare to love your enemy.

As story infinite and universal, that all can relate to, even if you haven’t been in a war yourself. As more young boys return from Afghanistan to peaceful Sweden wrapped up in body bags, one often wanders what it take to quench the warmonger’s of this world’s thirst for blood, how many bodies will it take to still their hunger for death and destruction… and what will it take to cleanse all that?

During the nearly four years of working on the film, following the veterans journey up the river, closer and closer to their own hearts of darkness, we too had to delve deeper and deeper into our very own souls, our owns doubts but we had to go there to fully understand this process, to participate in that final blood cleansing ceremony. It was inspiring to watch our characters change and transform from former enemies to friends, and made us realise that veterans the world over, have many similarities and much to share and learn from each other. Deep down there the roots are at work, very often, with no one to encourage them.

They are true role models, risking proving to themselves and also to us, that reconciliation is possible and that war is fucked up, and that most people just want to live a peaceful life.

Stockholm 05 November 2010

Saturday, 11 February 2012


The journey of an international documentary to the United States is an uncertain one. Make its subject a lesser-known foreign war and the post-traumatic effects thereof, and you’ve got what an American agent calls a “hard sell.” My Heart of Darkness, a brooding foray into four veterans’ pasts, has been traveling the international festival circuit since premiering at IDFA in 2010. The years between then and now, where it’s having its U.S. premiere at L.A.’s Pan African Film Festival (PAFF), has been marked by all manner of revelations and misunderstandings—appropriate for a film about the reconciliation of four former enemies of the Angolan Civil War.
As its title suggests, My Heart of Darkness is a personalized take on Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness. The documentary, directed by Staffan Julén and Marius Van Neikerk, applies the symbolic thrust of Conrad’s book to a meditation on war’s disgrace. The transfer of Conrad’s story from the Congo to neighboring Angola is more than arbitrary. Just as the West used the Cold War as a pretext to intervene in Congo’s affairs—leading the CIA to back the assassination of the country’s first democratically elected president—Angola became a major site of Cold War intervention.
The Angolan Civil War pitted the United States and South Africa against the Soviet Bloc and Cuba. Central to the conflict was the issue of who would control Angola after it gained independence from Portugal: the communist MPLA or the anti-communist UNITA. The war continued sporadically for over thirty years, fueled by competition over the country’s wealth of oil and diamonds. Read more...

Our screening at PAFF LA, Rave Cinemas Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza

Mon, Feb 13@2:pm Screen 13 

Wed, Feb 15@3:00pm Screen 13

Fri, Feb 17@600pm Screen 14

Welcome. Me and DoP Peter Östlund will be present during the screening.

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